While the impacts of floodwaters on infrastructure throughout Queensland are still being assessed, QR National railings continue to be affected by flooding and the rail systems that feed Gladstone port have been severely damaged.
By Jennifer Perry and Jim Wilson
QR National Queensland coal networks update
QR National’s Moura coal line re-opened to all traffic on January 13 and the Blackwater network is now targeted to re-open later this week.
The company’s latest update, dated January 13 on local coal networks is as follows:
&bull    The Newlands line to Abbot Point Coal terminal near Bowen continues to operate. The Newlands system has remained open throughout and while it operated at reduced railings in December it has recovered well in January
&bull    The Goonyella network into the ports of Dalrymple Bay and Hay Point, south of Mackay, continues to operate. It was closed from December 24 to December 30 following derailment of a Pacific National train near Yukan. The network is currently working at around 70% capacity due to reduced coal availability
&bull    The Blackwater network that feeds into the port of Gladstone is expected to re-open later this week, following a detailed inspection and assessment of flood-damaged track on January 12. The system has been closed since December 27. On current estimates, services are expected to resume on the line as early as January 20, pending no significant rain and recovery operations proceeding as planned. It is planned that services would be available from Burngrove (near Blackwater) east from that time, and then progressively mines located on the (northern) Gregory branch line from the coming weekend. Precise dates for the resumption of services for the Minerva and Rolleston mines are yet to be determined
&bull    The Moura system re-opened on January 13. The system was closed on December 29 and then partially re-opened to the mines of Callide and Boundary Hill on January 4
&bull    In southern Queensland, QR National is unable to operates services west of Brisbane because of flooding and damage to the rail line on the Toowoomba Range following a landslide on January 10. QR National is awaiting further advice from the network owner, Queensland Rail, on the extent of the damage to infrastructure and likely timeframe for restoration on the track. QR National is unable to provide services to coal customers, west of Brisbane and to grain and general freight customers in south-west Queensland and
&bull    QR National’s general freight services along the North Coast line to locations beyond Gladstone to Cairns are not able to operate because the line remains cut by floodwaters at Rockhampton. This is expected to continue through to at least mid this week.
Many areas of the coal network continue to be subject to speed restrictions, allowing QR National to monitor track condition as train services resume and increase and future repair requirements are assessed.
The company said it is working closely with all participants in the coal export supply chain to maximise throughput. It is liaising daily with coal mining customers to understand the coal available for railing, including available stockpiles and when coal producing can re-commence.
Floods impact Asciano
Asciano has advised that its businesses including Pacific National are being impacted by ongoing severe weather conditions in Queensland and New South Wales.
As a result of flooding a number of PN customers have issued force majeure notices under their coal haulage contracts.
NSW coal haulage volumes are being impacted by coal chain congestion and the restricted availability of coal. In particular, weather related issues in the Gunnedah Basin and the Ulan network will likely reduce the average haul length anticipated in NSW during the fiscal year.
Consequently, the forecasted growth in revenues for the PN coal division will be impacted, however Asciano said it was not able to make a full assessment of both the business and financial implications at this point in time.
Floodwaters have twisted south Queensland rail systems that feed Gladstone port “like a corkscrew”.
Port users at the port of Gladstone said that the port is working more or less normally, except for disruptions to coal and grain receivals.
“It’s just business as usual but port access is the problem – rail in and out of the port is the problem,” one port user said.
“The rail tracks have been twisted like a corkscrew,” he said, referring to the tracks outside the port, south of Emerald and west of the mines.
"They are also said to be service lines, not main lines, “but you can still run coal over it,” the source said.
A Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal spokesman added that because of the rail track damage around Gladstone, coal had been diverted to DBCT.
The rail link from Dawson Mine at Moura is up and running, allowing several coal shipments to be railed into Gladstone, with the port recommencing shiploading on January 15.
Gladstone Ports Corporation chief executive Leo Zussino said additional trains from more nearby mines may be sent on January 21 as owing to rail repairs.
There are also six trains that were loaded prior to Christmas located on the line.
A spokeswoman for Gladstone port said that the “trains are due, but we don’t yet know how many are coming.”
She added that the coal stockpile was “seriously depleted – it’s less than 500,000 tonnes.”
Meanwhile, priority shipping operations resumed at the port Brisbane on January 16, however it could take some weeks before all berths are brought on line.
The Port of Bundaberg remains closed to commercial shipping because of the flooded Burnett River.
Port Alma also remains closed to commercial shipping due to flood conditions in the Rockhampton area.
Queensland passenger network update
96% of public transport services in South-East Queensland were back to full capacity as of January 17.
All public transport until last service on January 21 would be free to keep unnecessary cars off the road, and to help people with the recovery effort and return to work.
All train lines are open, with the exception of the Ipswich line which is only running between the Brisbane CBD and Darra station. However, the new train line from Richlands to Darra is opening one week early to assist commuters from the west use public transport into the city.
Remaining network disruptions include:
&bull    Buses will replace trains between Darra and Ipswich/Rosewood
&bull    CityCat and City Ferry services are unavailable until further notice and
&bull    Limited service through West End.